UW Oshkosh Anthropology Department
What is Anthropology? Anthropology is always interesting with almost limitless topics topics to explore.
laboratory experiences in primitive technology—ancient tool making
field work—archaeological excavations
native American experience
expressive culture and gender
What is Anthropology?
Anthropology is the study of humanity in all of its wondrous chronological and geographic diversity and complexity. From the dawn of humanity over two million years ago to the latest breaking technological revolution, from the Arctic to the tip of Tierra del Fuego (South America), Anthropology introduces students to the variety and complexity of contemporary and past human societies and cultures. The goal of Anthropology is to make sense out of that complexity, to understand the processes that have shaped and continue to shape the lives of people around the world.
To accomplish this goal, different Anthropologists examine biological, archaeological, linguistic and cultural aspects of humanity striving collectively, for in integrated understanding. In studying Anthropology with its focus on humanity, the topics you can explore are almost limitless.
The Relevance of Anthropology
Given our rapidly changing world and ever increasing interaction with people from different places, with different ideas and different ways of doing things, an understanding and appreciation of those differences, and those changes, is more important now than ever before. Anthropology, with its focus on understanding diversity and change, offers help. Government and non-governmental organizations, businesses, and the public in general turn to Anthropology to answer questions of cultural differences, of culture change, and our place in the biosphere. Grave problems confronted our human ancestors. Grave problems confront us today. How did they solve them? How will we? Anthropologists are in the middle of debates on world hunger, world poverty, disease, justice, globalization, and the care of the environment.
A central focus of Anthropology is the use of field work to develop and investigate ideas about people, societies and culture both in the past and the present. So in addition to the standard course work, we offer laboratory experiences in primitive technology (ancient tool making), archaeological analysis, human anatomy, and primate evolution. We also offer field experiences in 1) Archaeology, where students actively participate in archaeological excavations on a diverse range of sites in the Midwest and Alaska and 2) Cultural Anthropology, with opportunities to travel to Mexico and various Native American communities within the United States and explore their rich heritage and vibrant culture. A large number of our students participate in independent study projects that investigate subject areas not covered in the standard courses. Many of our graduates have told us that these laboratory and field experiences were the most rewarding of their college careers.